“A widely held fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing,” is the definition of a stereotype. More than often people use stereotypes to describe or make fun of other cultures without fully knowing the effects they may have on the other. Jaswinder Bolina an American poet from Chicago,Illinois, whom received many degrees in creative writing had the liberty of not living the difficult life that his parents, who are from Bolina Doaba, Punjab, went through. Expressing what it was like to be an outcast when they came to America to start a new life together, Bolina’s father tries to give him the American dream by putting him in many white schools helping him further his education so he can fit in where they were seen as outcast. Throughout Bolinas article, “Writing Like a White Guy” he expresses his experiences and educates his readers of his many struggles in what is considered a white-based society that is filled with stereotypes telling you what you should look and talk like in order to be a successful American. This often leaves people to reject their native culture, constantly having to prove themselves and give white people an upper hand in many situations.
In Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart, the Ibo society has a strict system of behavioral customs that are assigned by gender. These customs restrict the freedom of Ibo woman and help to reinforce generation after generation the notion that Ibo men are superior to women. In Achebe's essay An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness, he claims that Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, despite it's insights, ought to be eradicated from literature as an appropriate piece of work on the argument that it is racist. Achebe focuses on gender roles and avoiding stereotypes to dismiss the racist attitude towards Africans in his novel by bringing the reader down to the level of his unbiased narration of a historical fiction novel.
“The single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” said Chimamanda Adichie in her TED talk speech seven years ago. She is spreading awareness about the value of working against spreading a single story in a culture and community. She is correct because people should not be influencing a single story to represent a whole community of many different stories.
Addressing cultural stereotypes can be an extremely difficult task for many individuals, especially when the individuals themselves are being stereotyped. Sherman Alexie’s short story “Flight Patterns” brings about new ideas in regards to Native American Indian people. The main character who is a man William, completely contradicts the stereotype of the typical Indian individual. Although William defies the stereotype of the typical Native American individual he is guilty himself of giving other groups of people stereotypes as well. There are many times in Alexie’s “Flight Patterns” when common preconceptions are both questioned and answered through the thorough examination of the cultural stereotypes in the short story, the thorough discussions that take place between characters, and the
A single stories’ “power is the ability not to just tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person” found in the speech “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Adichie. Adichie tells of single stories she has witnessed against others and herself throughout her life, being from Nigeria, coming to a university in America, and traveling throughout her life. Brent Staples’ personal essay “Just Walk on By” provide examples from his own personal experience, of single stories that have been raised against him as an African-American male. Both express how believing in only things heard can demolish truths that have not yet been proven. Single stories may cause not only empowerment, but also a negative stigma to a person, group, or a place. There are many possible dangers that come along with a single story pertaining to the start or continuation of a story heard as well as the act of believing in it. Everyone has been in the same place as Adichie and Staples; been a victim or believed in the oppressors
In Indigena as scribe: The (W)rite to remember. A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness Writings, Cherrie Moraga emphasizes the importance of writing, as people of color. Moraga makes us aware of how much we deny our culture, practices, and myths because we are so afraid to be like our ancestors. Although we fear this close proximity to our ancestors, to Moraga, that same proximity is what makes our narratives valuable. The fear carried within us silences us and makes us forget about the powerful voices we hold. Moraga also writes about the importance of recognizing that institutionally, we have become colonized beings and to understand this concept, can help us break away from the shackles that keep us from being who we truly are. For Moraga, it is important that we acknowledge the power that writing has. She wants us to realize that our narratives are important and we have the right to remember who we are.
In October 2009, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shared stories about her transition from Nigeria to the United States in a TED talk entitled, “The Danger of a Single Story” (Adichie). In her talk, Adichie comments about the perception that others had of her when she immigrated to the States. This inherent cultural misunderstanding transcends time and ethnicities. Take for instance Brent Staples, a young black man tired of being profiled on the streets of Chicago. His 1968 essay, “Black Men and Public Space” (Staples), paints a bold picture of racial stereotyping at its core. In the essay, Staples remarks that the perception a young lady had of him was enough to send her “…running in earnest” (Staples 1). Staples’ and Adichie’s stories, though different in nature, share one thing in common: they both show the effects of uninformed perception.
Today, the society’s lives and cultures are composed of many overlapping stories. A single story confines a corner of the world to a generalized stereotype. Chimamanda Adichie in TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story, addresses that “if you hear a single story about a person or a country we risk a critical understanding.” Adichie also states, “a single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not what they are untrue, but they are incomplete.” Adichie believes everyone is guilty in creating single stories and they are dangerous because they rob people from their identities and dignity. Diversity of stories and possibilities are things that should be read and discussed. Single stories are dangerous because they make the differences in people stand out and the single story an incomplete description.
She flew on. The rain beat at her wings and her eyes were blinded, but Marya Lechowicz knew she had to reach the house before dawn. This was it. The final stretch after months of preparation, training, test flying, goodbyes, disguises and hideouts.
Stories are told all around the world and they have been around for centuries. They have taken all of our imaginations into the author’s world. We’ve experienced nonfiction stories, which provided insight on different cultures. Has anyone thought that a single story can be dangerous? It’s kind of hard for us to imagine a single story can be dangerous when we’ve all learned that reading is a part of learning.
To fully understand a specific person, one must dive head-first into the environment and history that has molded the person to whom they are today. However, the mindset of today's generation have been limited to what they are handed, instead of being able to search for more components that would complete the story of a person, or in this case, a race. The lack of knowledge and the unshakeable grip of slavery are strongly supported by the following sources. In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s video, “The Danger of a Single Story”, the absence of having complete perspectives on the people of color leaves a great space for stereotypical assumptions. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Tanzina Vega both explain the effects of having colored skin, how the unshakeable
In the essay, “The Storyteller,” Sandra Cisneros discusses how she didn’t let her family's’ traditions interfere with her passion to become a writer. Despite the fact that her father loathed the idea of her moving out without being married, her desire for independance lead her to leave. She finally got her silent home to “listen to the voices inside herself” while becoming inspired by all of her trinkets. Every decision she makes revolves around her writing; it influences every aspect of her life. Cisneros emphasizes the role that family has on your dreams and her ambition to pursue them no matter what.
Before African writers emerged, the world viewed Africa as “‘the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization”(Adeche, 1977, p.3) Joseph Conrad’s idea of a civilized nation is Europe, but his ignorance towards other forms of civilizations, lead Conrad to publish Heart of Darkness. Conrad’s interpretation of Africa in Heart of Darkness, being the only one at the time, created the daunting beastial stereotype of Africa. Though Conrad’s story does not entirely embody Africa today, his opinions still sway the minds of Americans today. Similarly, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie encounter a like situation where she fell victim to the single story of Africa. When arriving at an American Adichie’s roommate immediately feels pity for her. When Adichie questions her assumptions she highlights the impoverishment present parts of Africa based on a newspaper article she previously read. Adichie roommate's lack of knowledge prompted her to form a false opinion about African based on one story. When we only embrace one story, we fail to embrace the stories of
In her 2009 TED talks presentation,” The Danger of a Single Story,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explains how a single story presented by the media and books can affect the way a person may perceive others, places, and cultures (Adichie). She goes into details explaining her point through personal experiences where she falsely misunderstood someone based on a single word she heard numerously, and how she was a victim of a common stereotype. According to Adichie, there is never a single story and that people can go through a mental shift of their perspective if they considered various alternatives that differ from the same story that is commonly told.